Ally Sloper's Half Holiday was a weekly comic published by Dalziel Brothers from 3 May 1884, eight pages long and printed in black and white at tabloid size and priced at a penny. It has a claim to being the first comic named after and featuring a regular character. Star Ally Sloper, a blustery, lazy schemer often found "sloping" down alleys to avoid his landlord and other creditors, had debuted in 1867 in the humour magazine Judy — created by writer and artist C. H. Ross and inked and later fully illustrated by his French wife Emilie de Tessier under the pseudonym "Marie Duval".
The Half Holiday was launched after Ross had sold the rights to the character to Dalziel. W. G. Baxter drew the Sloper character with issue 13, and W. F. Thomas took over after Baxter's death in 1888. C. H. Chapman illustrated the character in 1908. Thomas Burke contributed stories. Alongside the strips featuring Sloper, the magazine also featured prose stories and cartoons and strips of other characters.
The "half holiday" referred to in the title was the practice in Victorian Britain of allowing the workers home at lunchtime on a Saturday, a practice that also established the kick-off times of football matches.
Sales of the magazine have been estimated as being as high as 350,000, the magazine describing itself as "the largest selling paper in the world". The paper found a mixed audience: aimed at adults, it captured both a loyal working class, male base, as well as attracting a cult following amongst the middle class of the time.
Although the weekly initially ceased publication on 9 September 1916, after 1,679 issues, it was later revived between 5 November 1922 and 14 April 1923, again from 1948 to 1949, and finally from 1976 to 1977, each attempt failing to capture the imagination of the British public as the original once had.
- Ally Sloper: A collection of 108 cartoons digitized by the University of Alberta Libraries